The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service's already plummeting public image has been further deteriorated by a video that has been circulating on social media. Please note that the video contains obscene language. In it, a plainclothes policeman physically and verbally abuses a disabled man in a wheelchair soon after a uniformed policewoman pushes the man into oncoming traffic.
Both officers have reportedly been suspended from their duties while authorities conduct investigations into the incident. Mainstream media picked up on the story; relatives of the male police officer are allegedly calling the whole thing “an edited set up”.
Netizens, in speaking out about the incident, are weary of this “it wasn't me” stance. In the past year, several videos have made their way around social media — one with a mother hitting her child with a shovel, another of a former government minister allegedly rolling marijuana in a hotel room and yet another of who some believe to be the current wife of the same minister caught in a sexually compromising position with another man. In all three cases, those embarrassed by the videos have taken what has come to be known as the Shaggy defence.
One Facebook user, Rhoda Bharath, responded to the latest claims of video editing by saying:
The slap was edited.
Lurbz tongue was edited.
The Minister in Room 201 was edited.
Meme commentary naturally followed:
He was being perverse, he didn't kick the guy in the face. He hit him two open handed slaps. That's a wake up call not intended to injure.
Shanelle Whyte responded:
Police officer or not, that is NO WAY to treat people. Just because of thier [sic] ‘status’ they feel they could take advantage of anyone, and they feel people cant do nun bout it because they is ‘police’. Yeah the man in the weelchair [sic] was wrong, but slapping him up is no way to address the situation. Just goes to show lack of humanity in this country.
One commenter laid blame at the feet of the person who was recording the video, saying that he egged on the disabled man to go back and confront the female police officer. Another claimed that the male police officer had a history of aggression and violent behaviour.
Lindell Malton Sealey thought that, regardless of how insolent the wheelchair-using man may have been, the officers were out of bounds:
Don't matter what trouble making the gentleman did there are ways to handle a situation as a officer of the law those officers had no right.
And for those of you who's [sic] making fun of the situation what if this was one of your family member whether his condition alcoholic, drug addiction young or old those officers abused there [sic] authority & should be punished as an example that they are not above the law ..
Alvaro Mitchell agreed:
Now I don't know what law this man broke to earn him harsh treatment and hard slaps to his face but this is sad. He doesn't have a weapon, no drugs, no real threat, it looks like he can't even get onto the pavement.
Ronald Ramquar thought the officers should be fired, as the police action was contrary to the service's motto to protect and serve. David Frost suggested that both parties were wrong, but that the onus to show a higher standard of behaviour was on the police:
While much is expected from the TTPS, they also shouldn't be provoked. This […] shows more of a micheivous [sic] attempt to discredit and bring into disrepute the men of the uniform (although I agree he willingly placed himself there).
The sad part is that this just starts us back at square one everytime something like this happens..much to the dismay of the truly hard working and compassionate cops out there.
Finally, Lucille Duntin Stewart expressed her hope that the commissioner of police would deal with the situation swiftly:
I hope that the Comissioner [sic] of Police will investigate thi [sic] brutality dished out by these police officers who pledged to protect and serve the masses.This kind of reckless behavior comes from the top of institutions hence Trinbago is a lawless place.One has to give respect to earn respect.Simple as that.